45 Famous Guest Stars From Law & Order: SVU

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45 Famous Guest Stars From Law & Order: SVU

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Bradley Cooper

Before Cooper became a mega-watt Hollywood director, one of his first notable roles was playing Jason Whitaker in the season six SVU episode, “Night.” Whitaker was a seemingly charming lawyer dealing with a client accused of raping illegal immigrants. In the end, it’s revealed that the client’s wealthy family was paying Whittaker off to cover for him all along.

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Cynthia Nixon

A few years after Sex and The City wrapped, Nixon took on an entirely different role in the season nine opening episode, “Alternate,” which was full of the show’s signature plot twists and turns. Nixon played Janis Donovan, a mother falsely accused of abusing her daughter, who was also faking Dissociative Identity Disorder to cover up a murder. Nixon gave such an impressive performance that she won an Emmy for the role.

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Robin Williams

In SVU’s 200th episode during season nine, Williams played Merritt Rook, an anti-authoritarian activist who abducts Olivia Benson to challenge authority. Rook’s crimes were actually based on a true story.

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Alec Baldwin

Baldwin appeared as Jimmy MacArthur for Mariska Hargitay’s directorial debut in season 15. MacArthur, a controversial newspaper columnist with powerful influence over the New York City authorities, makes things especially difficult for the Special Victims Unit…before having a change of heart.

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Milo Ventimiglia

Prior to his This Is Us stardom, Ventimiglia took a break from his bad-boy bit on Gilmore Girls to tackle the part of Lee Healy in season five’s “Escape.” At first, it seemed that Healy had been sexually abused by his stepfather as a kid, but in typical SVU fashion, things were not as they appeared: he was actually involved in a secret, incestuous relationship with his cousin.

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Amanda Seyfried

Seyfried made an appearance in the season six episode “Outcry,” where she played rape victim, Tandi McCain. In a truly twisting plot line—even by SVU standards—McCain changed her story on perpetrator several times before the truth was revealed.

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Carol Burnett

Even some of Hollywood’s greatest legends have added SVU cameos to their resumes. In season 10, Burnett played Birdie Sulloway; a serial killer who married and murdered several men who she deemed unworthy to remain in this world.

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John Stamos

In the cheekily titled season 12 episode, “Bang,” Stamos played lawyer Ken Turner, a master manipulator who had fathered at least 20 children, and made reproductive rights the hot topic of the moment down at the station.

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Kathy Griffin

In season 11, Griffin took a little break from comedy to play Babs Duffy, the leader of lesbian rights group, LesBeStrong. Duffy accuses the SVU team of neglecting crimes against the lesbian community due to homophobia, before her own sexuality is outed.

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Zoe Saldana

Saldana played Gabrielle Vega, the daughter of a convicted murderer, in the season five episode “Criminal.” Vega entered the scene when the SVU team discovered that her father had been framed for murder at 19-years-old, before he even knew Vega existed. When her father went back to using drugs, Vega filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, seeking reparation.

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Hilary Duff

During the season 10 episode “Selfish,” Duff portrays Ashlee Walker, a young and seemingly irresponsible mother—a far cry from Lizzie McGuire. When Walker’s daughter dies of measles after being exposed to an unvaccinated child, the sick child’s family becomes a target for revenge.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt

Some SVU episodes are a little more disturbing than others, and season 12’s “Behave” certainly leaves you feeling uneasy. Hewitt plays Vicki Sayers, a woman who told detectives she had been raped for the fourth time in 15 years by the same man. Despite widespread doubt, Olivia Benson helps her catch and convict her attacker.

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Angela Lansbury

Lansbury appeared in the season six episode, “Night” alongside Bradley Cooper, taking on the role of Eleanor Duvall. The wealthy and politically-driven mother of a suspected serial rapist, she’s found to be paying off Cooper’s character in exchange for his silence.

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Eric McCormack

In season 11, McCormack appeared in the episode “Sugar,” where he played Vance Shepard, the CEO of a dating website. Shepard is accused of murdering a young woman, but in a typical SVU twist, we learn that a family member is the one who committed the crime—will they manage to off him before serving time themselves?

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Henry Winkler

In the season three episode aptly titled “Greed,” Winkler played con-man Edward Crandall, who married a woman for her money, then attempted to pass off her death as a rape/burglary.

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James Van Der Beek

Van Der Beek takes a 180-degree turn from sweet Dawson Leery to creepy Sean Albert in season 13’s episode, “Father Dearest.” He’s unsettlingly convincing as Albert, a man who takes advantage of teen girls searching for their biological fathers online. After seducing the daughter of his ex-girlfriend, he finds himself in hot water.

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T.R. Knight

Knight starred in the season 13 episode “Double Strands,” where he split his time between portraying Gabriel Thomas and Brian Smith—identical twins accused of rape. Thomas adamantly denies the accusation, but it takes some time to pinpoint his more sinister brother.

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John Ritter

In the season three episode “Monogamy,” Ritter played Dr. Richard Manning. His character was a doctor accused of a grim crime: murdering his wife, and then removing her unborn child from the womb.

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Sarah Hyland

Hyland is one of a handful of stars who appeared on Law & Order not once, but twice. She first starred in season three, playing a child victim in the episode, “Repression,” then returned in season 10 to play a less innocent role. In “Hothouse,” Hyland portrayed Jennifer Banks, a student who suffers from a psychotic breakdown and admits to murdering her roommate.

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Brad Garrett

After his Everybody Loves Raymond years, Garrett took on a cop role once more during season 17 of SVU. This portrayal wasn’t a laughing matter, however—over two episodes he played Gary Munson, a crooked corrections officer who had been abusing female inmates. When Munson is eventually arrested, he doesn’t go quietly, and ends up being partially responsible for the death of Sgt. Mike Dodds.

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Patricia Arquette

In the season 14 episode “Dreams Deferred,” Arquette took on the role of prostitute, Jeannie. When she’s kidnapped by an armed and dangerous suitor, the entire SVU squad has to drop everything in an attempt to save her life.

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Miranda Lambert

Lambert made her SVU debut as Lacey Ford in season 13’s “Father’s Shadow.” The musician portrays a rape victim who is assaulted by a powerful TV producer and pressured into claiming it was consensual. In this ripped-from-the-headlines plot, the victim steers away from the truth so as not to put her recent TV show audition in jeopardy.

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After telling Us Weekly that his fantasy was to “play a dead body” on Law & Order, Questlove’s dream became a reality. During season 16, he had a particularly cold cameo, appearing on the coroner’s table with a bullet wound to the head—you could say it was a drop-dead performance.

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Brittany Snow

In season seven, Snow appeared in the episode “Influence,” where she played Jamie Hoskins, a bipolar teen who falsely claimed to be a rape victim. When detectives find out she’s lying, she quickly becomes a danger to herself and others.

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Jerry Lewis

During the season eight episode “Uncle,” Lewis can be seen as a mentally ill homeless man who’s suspiciously befriended a 10-year-old girl. When the youngster ends up murdered, he becomes a key player in the investigation who decides to take matters into his own hands.

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Chloe Sevigny

Sevigny portrays a somber Christine Hartwell in the season 13’s “Valentine’s Day”—a woman claiming to have been attacked and kidnapped while video chatting with her husband overseas. When details of an affair surface, she no longer seems so innocent, yet a sympathetic juror still manages to turn the trial upside down.

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Norman Reedus

Before starring in The Walking Dead, Reedus popped up in the season seven episode “Influence” alongside Brittany Snow. He steps into the shoes of Derek Lord, a reformed rock star who encourages Snow to go back on her medication after trying to kill herself, then uses his frame to speak out about psychopharmacology.

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Rose McGowan

In a truly wild episode during season 12, McGowan tackles the role of Cassandra Davina, a woman accused of attempted murder along with her ex-boyfriend, Doug. Shady details about the pair slowly emerge, including the truth about their blood relation, which eventually leads to more bloodshed.

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Mischa Barton

Mischa Barton left The O.C. and transitioned from playing a troubled teen to a pregnant, former prostitute named Gladys Dalton in the season 11 episode, “Savior.” When Gladys agrees to testify against a murderous minister who leaves prayer cards at his crime scenes, it’s tough to see the approaching plot twist—Gladys gives birth prematurely and skips town, leaving her baby in Detective Benson’s hands.

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Serena Williams

One of Williams’ first acting roles took place on SVU, where she played Chloe Spiers in the season five episode, “Brotherhood.” An unwitting internet porn victim, she’s merely a piece in a larger puzzle that leads the detectives to the unsavory inter-workings of a college fraternity.

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